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Man’s Dress Shirt Pocket Stylin’

I’m loosely following the Classic Dress Shirt pattern from Islander Sewing Systems. Notice the pocket in the illustration? It has a nice deep top fold. But the pattern piece is not really that deep.

It is shallow. The angle of the vee is exactly the same for the top fold and the bottom of the pocket. As I cut and stitched this pocket it struck me as juvenile. It look skimpy and oddly “made by loving hands at home”. The symmetry of the two vee shapes also is not pleasing to the eye.


The topstitching further reduces the perception of depth. I redrafted the pocket to add a deeper fold and to vary the angles of the vees: the bottom vee is now more shallow than the top vee. The pattern’s pocket is on the left and my new pocket is on the right.


You will have to click on each picture to see the details more clearly. I want this shirt to exude “quality” even though no doubt it will be further tweaked in future renditions. Each detail is very important giving a sense of richness.

This picture is the original pinned in place following the pattern. It is true to the illustration: it’s placed too low on the chest. I have made a higher, tighter armscye than the pattern’s original dropped shoulder, flattened sleeve cap. It is also too “long and lean” for the stripey fabric.

This pocket should be substantial, interesting and stand out from the busy fabric. I want a manly pocket, not one that suggests one will have to pray for long fingers and slender hand to reach to the bottom of the pocket.

Pinning the pocket to the shirt brought out a few more details that would ruin a classy shirt immediately. By allowing the pocket’s fold to fall on the lighter tan stripes any slight variation in placement while stitching would be immediately noticeable. Widening the pocket to bring the edge of the pocket out to the blue stripe would camouflage any variation in the wider blue stripe. The original pocket was also slightly off the center of the overall striped design. Spraying starch on the pocket and the shirt smoothed out the fabric and make accurate placement more possible. I will zigzag the inner raw edges since serging them will add threads inside the pocket that can be grabbed by the metal of a spiral notebook, etc.

Pinned in place it is almost invisible were it not for the topstitching. Visually, the stripes add to the depth of the pocket even though it will be .5″ shorter than the pattern piece.



Here is the shape of the revised pocket. It is not as deep as the original pattern piece: I don’t want nooks and cranies to make precious pocketed items difficult to reach. If you look closely at the drawing above you will see that the vee at the bottom of the pocket does not match the pocket’s folded vee. I think that following this styling idea may help to give the pocket some visual pizzazz. You can also see this detail in the illustration of the pattern in the first picture above.

My Sewing Diva sister Els has another suggestion (giggle) as it is the nature of The Sewing Divas to fine-tune, fine-tune. One can never have too many good sewing and tailoring (and machine knitting) friends.

In designing for someone you can “echo” different features of the individual for different looks. I am working for a man with a long torse but who is rounded through the middle: the shape of this pocket reflects the shape of the man who is 5’6″. I want the pocket high and eyecatching so that I am emphasizing the chest, not drawing the eye downward.

I’d like to thank Blogger for finally cooperating! Now on to more details!

I’ll show the pocket after it’s been edgestitched on to the shirt, attaching it to the top of the fabric 1/8″ or less from the edge of the folds, in the next blog entry.


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

7 responses »

  1. Wow, MaryBeth, what great attention to detail. I don’t think I’d’ve noticed the details; you’re right, though, (of course), the new pocket looks much nicer. Not only is the fold on the blue stripes, but the stripes are symmetrical on it, too, which I think gives it a much better look.

    I hope your hubby appreciates those fine details…and I’m taking notes for my next shirt for DH 😉

  2. What a fine and critical eye you have! This seemingly minor pocket adjustment will make all the difference in the world. Thanks for the reminder to step back and take a good hard look at what that pattern is trying to get us to do and improve it when we can. Your result is fabulous! Thanks, Mary Beth.

  3. MaryBeth like any good tailor you have the eye for perfection, it is important even to those tiny details which can make or break a quality garment.
    That shirt fabric you are using is looking great and fine quality. Since your husband has a long torso it seems to me that the pocket looks too small in depth, while the V of the flap is very deep.
    I agree about the blue stripes at the edge are looking much more couture or high quality, but I disagree about the length of the pocket. IMHO I would suggest to make the pocket a bit deeper so the v of the flap reflects the v of the pocket too , or make the pocket a bit deeper and change the v angle pocket flap less deeper.Different kind of pockets which are used in tailor made see at:

  4. This teaches the rest of us what to look for and what a difference paying attention to these kind of details can make. Thanks!

  5. Wow, I can’t believe the difference the deeper fold makes in the appearance of the pocket! Your attention to detail will result in a beautiful custom shirt your DH will love to wear.

  6. So I’m not the only person who spends time trying to figure out the best pocket for the shirt/wearer! One of the things I dislike is a non-functional pocket (some shirt patterns have pockets too small for anything but decoration), and I like to customize them for the wearer’s needs/preferences too.

    As for yours, I like the deeper hem too (disappointing that the pattern doesn’t match the illustration) but I’m going to agree with Els about the length/depth of the whole pocket. I think the pocket looks a bit shallow the way you’ve done it. I think Coffin’s book on shirtmaking claims that the hem vee should match the bottom vee (not that that means you have to do it that way).

    Nice shirt! Looking forward to the next installment!

  7. Oh Mary, what timely info. My DB keeps saying “maybe you’ll make me a shirt” I am bookmarking this for the day that project arrives on my cutting table! Thanks!


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